Ex-Cook Co. probation official sues over firing in wake of illegal search probe

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Chief Cook County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Evans. | Rich Hein / Sun-Times

A former deputy chief in Cook County’s Adult Probation Department has filed a lawsuit over his ouster last year following a series of investigative reports that suggested his gang unit teamed up with other law enforcement agencies to conduct illegal searches and coerce probationers into working as informants.

Philippe Loizon was fired last spring after being relegated to desk duty for two years, according to his lawsuit filed Tuesday against Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who oversees the probation department.

An explosive 2014 Chicago Tribune report, dismissed by Loizon as “based primarily on information provided to the reporters by convicted felons,” indicated the deputy chief’s probation officers — who have a lesser standard of “reasonable suspicion” to meet in order to justify searching probationers’ homes — would work with Chicago Police officers and FBI agents to raid probationers’ homes without warrants.

The alleged practice, vehemently denied by Loizon, led to numerous criminal cases being thrown out because evidence was obtained illegally and ruled inadmissible at trial, the Tribune reported.

In the suit, Loizon touts accolades he earned during a 29-year career, and claims he went to Evans with policy proposals in 2009 and 2010 “to address a variety of dysfunctionalities within the APD,” including an “absence of clear APD policies on such key issues as permissible searches, taking probationers into custody, working with probationers who become informants.”

Neither Evans nor the head of the probation department “ever responded” to his suggestions, the suit claims.

A spokesman for Evans declined to comment on the suit, citing an Illinois Supreme Court rule that prohibits judges and court personnel from remarking on active court proceedings.

Evans placed Loizon on desk duty after the Tribune report and launched an internal investigation, culminating in the deputy chief’s termination in May 2017 based on what he calls “bogus charges.”

Loizon claims the internal investigation ignored potential witnesses who “would confirm that any claims of Loizon’s misconduct were baseless.”

Loizon, who is Caucasian, also suggests in the suit that African-American probation officers escaped with lesser punishment for various offenses. He is seeking back pay plus more than $450,000 in damages with the five-count lawsuit, which alleges discrimination and retaliation.

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